Addison — Contemporary Ballet Dallas returns to the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival with Sidewalk Stories. The show promises an examination of urban life with portrayals of individual and collective experiences.
The only visual hint of urban, though, is in the opening piece Round of Regulars by Jennifer Obeney. Four café tables adorn the stage, and through three different sections, we see three sides of the experience of relationships. Stephen Raikes and Lisa Stoller give us the giddy romanticism, Amanda Will shows us the lonely side, and Jennifer Obeney and Danielle Georgiou portray the ends of two tense relationships.
The idea has promise, and while the performances carry the work pretty well, the choreography pulls it down. For the first two sections, the dancers perform too many formulaic steps that allow little time for movements that actually go with the emotion portrayed. The sultry jazz maneuvers of the final section fit a little better in context.
The theme of passion continues into the second work, Jennifer Arellano’s Tango Tango. With nice precision and seductive glances, the dance starts well, but the connection between Paula Ulery-Reynolds and Courtney Beacham fizzles out towards the end.
In a completely different direction, Erin Mallar Boone takes the audience into a dream state with The Last Dream. A trio of dancers dressed in shimmery shifts glide across the stage to soft piano and strings. Elegant and graceful movements, especially from Lea Essmeyer, make a nice picture, but the sections transition abruptly and overall the work lasts too long.
CBD Artistic Director Valerie Shelton-Tabor reveals a romantic duet with Sunday in the Park, featuring Jaclyn Poole and Brandon Chase McGee. Both dancers demonstrate wonderful musicality, and the partnering flows beautifully. The downside? It ends too soon. This is one of the best works from Shelton-Tabor in the last few years, and it longs for some development.
The soft classical feel of the last two pieces gives way to a David Cook pop ballad, with Lindsay Bowman’s Come Back to Me. The upbeat nature of this piece is sure to find its way into the hearts of the audience. The dancers don the popular leotard and black stirrup tights outfit and give commendable performances with great connections. Timing gets a little off and the choreography doesn’t show much originality, but it’s a fun piece and displays the level of talent among the dancers.
Then, just to spice things up a bit, we get Georgiou’s Souvenir, which will likely elicit one of two responses from the audience. It could be a breath of fresh air in the midst of a long stretch of ballet vocabulary, or one could uncomfortably wonder why this appears in a ballet concert. Well, no one could say that CBD is not diverse, and this is definitely not a safe piece.
Swaying dancers in long white skirts cast stark shadows on a blank cyc, as some eerie sounds come out of the speaker. The mood shifts from spellbound to frantic, with sharp movements and drastic level changes. Georgiou’s recent work with local flamenco artists obviously inspired part of the piece. Choreography with the skirt, stomping, and hand-clapping are reminiscent of the passionate Spanish form, but only vaguely.
For those patrons completely puzzled at this point, CBD brings back some familiarity with Lea Essmeyer’s The Lyra, featuring a stunning Rachel Meador partnered by McGee and joined by Boone, Whitney Hart, and Colleen Pagnotta. Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” provides an emotional backdrop. The choreography itself is absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately it doesn’t match the quality of the music at times, especially in the petit allegro segments. Awkward transitions pop up here and there, but overall the work creates a nice closing picture.
» Sidewalk Stories repeats at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 12; and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 15 on the Main Stage at the Addison Theatre Centre
» WaterTower Theatre's 2014 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival is 10 days of live theater, dance, music and visual art. To see the full schedule, go here.